After a preflight inspection and engine run up that revealed no anomalies, the private pilot and two passengers were departing on a cross-country flight from the airport in Grants, N.M. The pilot stated that the Piper PA 32R-300 became airborne approximately 5,000′ down the 7,172′ runway at 80 knots.
Approximately 100′ above ground level, he heard a “gurgle” and the engine experienced a loss of power.
The pilot verified that the fuel pump was on and the throttle was in its full-forward position. The pilot then located a forced landing site and during the landing, the airplane hit a tree.
The occupants got out of the airplane, which was subsequently consumed by a post-crash fire.
The accident airport was located at an elevation about 6,500′ mean sea level (msl). Given the atmospheric conditions at the time of the accident, the density altitude exceeded 9,000′ msl, which would have significantly increased the airplane’s takeoff distance and reduced its climb capability.
The pilot’s experience operating in high density altitude environments could not be determined.
Review of photos from the accident site revealed that the fuel selector handle appeared to be located between the left fuel tank and off positions, however, the fuel selector was not examined and its position could not be verified, therefore, the reason for the reported loss of engine power could not be determined.
Probable cause: A loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information.
NTSB Identification: CEN16LA375
This September 2016 accident report is provided by the National Transportation Safety Board. Published as an educational tool, it is intended to help pilots learn from the misfortunes of others.